I'd Give my Life (August 14, 1936)
Released on August 14, 1936: A man is sentenced to hang for killing his gangster boss, and refuses to reveal that the gangster was his father, and his mother is the new Governor's wife.
Directed by Edwin L. Marin
Written by H.H. Van Loan, Willard Mack, George O'Neil and Ben Ryan.
The Actors: Guy Standing (Governor John Banccroft), Frances Drake (Mary Reyburn), Tom Brown (Nickie Elkins), Janet Beecher (Stella Bancroft), Robert Gleckler (Buck Gordon), Helen Howell (Mrs. Bancroft, Sr.), Paul Hurst (Conly), Charles C. Wilson (Warden), Charles Richman (Attorney Bill Chase), Thomas E. Jackson (Doyle), Charles Judels (unknown), William Burress (unknown), Robert Cummings (unknown), James Eagles (unknown), Robert Elliott (unknown), Corbet Morris (unkown), C. Franklyn Parker (unkown).
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I remember one summer as a young boy when my preacher dad engaged a travelling evangelist to speak at our church. He was from the Milwaukee, Wisconsin area, and he was bemoaning the fact that his beloved baseball team had just left town to play in Atlanta, Georgia, and Milwaukee now had no team to root for. This fellow was a member of a famous gangster organization back in the 1930's, riding with a machine gun on the running board of his boss' car, firing wildly at anyone who might try to do his boss harm. He was convicted of murder, and sentenced to die, but like our hero in this film, his sentence was not carried out. But I can still remember him telling us all that when a judge sentences someone to death, there is specific wording that the judge uses in his sentence. He condemns the man to 'hang by the neck until you are dead, dead, dead.' The judge specifically repeats the word 'dead' three times to guarantee that there is no mistake about the outcome. It sobered me when I was 12, and still does.
In 1936 every nightclub owner in the U.S. was a crooked racketeer . . . well, at least in the movies! This movie has a Jim-Dandy crook that puts most of them to shame! He is faced with a new Governor who wants to clean up the state and his first target is nightclub owner and gambling joint crook Buck Gordon. Gordon visits the new Governor and they square off against each other quickly and decisively. On his way out of the Governor's mansion, gangster Gordon exchanges words with the Governor's wife, who seems to be more worried than normal over seeing Gordon. We also meet young and lovable Nickie Elkins and his sweetheart Mary Reyburn. Mary sings in gangster Gordon's nightclub, and Nickie works for Gordon also. When Nickie refuses to bump off a jockey that wouldn't fix a horse race for Gordon, Nickie is in for trouble from Gordon, but not trouble like we might expect. Nickie wants to get out of Gordon's employ, but Gordon informs Nickie that he is Nickie's father . . . and his mother . . . is the Governor's wife! And Gordon will use that information to both control Nickie, but also to ruin the Governor. So Nickie kills his father, and is sentenced to hang, unless the Governor intercedes. And Nickie refuses to tell anyone why he killed gangster Gordon. He won't tell anyone that Gordon was his father, and that the Governor's wife was his mother. So he will hang in the morning, unless . . .
Grab your box of tissues and bowl of hot buttered white kernel popcorn and enjoy a political murder thriller from 1936 that might have happened last week.
|Frances Drake||Tom Brown|
|Robert Gleckler||Sir Guy Standing|
|Helen Lowell||Janet Beecher|
|Frances Drake and Tom Brown||Frances Drake, singing in the nightclub|
|Tom Brown and Frances Drake||Tom Brown, Robert Gleckler and Frances Drake|